Many who watched America’s Next Top Model remember contestant Jael Strauss for her wild, outgoing personality and unpredictability, as well as her unconventional model looks. She made it pretty far into Cycle 8 of the show despite facing some hardships along the way, including the death of a friend from a drug overdose.
It seemed that Strauss managed to get through the challenges, even if she didn’t make it to the end. Many who watch the show wonder what happens to contestants once they’re eliminated. Do they benefit at all from the exposure the show gave them and continue to model?
Not A Happy Ending
In Jael’s case, the story doesn’t end so happily. Like the friend who struggled and eventually succumbed to addiction, Jael found herself addicted to meth as her modeling career fizzled out. Her family grew increasingly concerned for her health and safety, eventually turning to tv’s Dr. Phil for help.
Viewers were shocked at the 28 year old nearly unrecognizable appearance on the show. Strauss had clearly been ravaged by the drug. When the time came to come out on stage, Strauss turned away, forcing Dr. Phil to seek her out in the studio parking lot.
Many families turn to an intervention to get help for a loved one that is lost to drug addiction. It seems a bit odd and inappropriate that Jael’s family would choose to do so on national television, given her history. Either way, it was clear that the former aspiring model desperately needed help. Her appearance prompted concern from many fans and even other Top Model contestants.
CariDee English, another Top Model contestant, used the incident to comment on how casting was done on the show. She says that Strauss should have been more carefully evaluated before being chosen. English’s comment hints that perhaps producers knew that Strauss was unstable when they chose her but went along with it because they knew it would make good television.
How “Real” Is Reality TV?
Many other former reality stars have hinted that much more goes on behind the scenes than people are aware of. Reality show producers have been known to look for unstable personalities because they know it will create good drama. The result is that real people end up getting hurt in the name of entertainment.
With competitive reality shows like Top Model, a happy ending isn’t guaranteed, even for the winners themselves. English went on further to explain what life was like for her as a winner, saying that she still had to work hard to make a modeling career for herself, even though it seemed that a successful career would be ready for her after the show. The fame of being on a reality show only lasts for so long before a contestant is thrust back into the normal world where that fame can turn out to be more of a hindrance than a help.
Drugs And The Modeling World
Drugs and modeling have a long history, so its no surprise that so many end up being addicts. Girls in their teens can suddenly be placed in the middle of the very fast paced, adult world of fashion where the pressure to be perfect can take a toll. Drugs are readily available, and many girls begin using to keep their energy up and their weight down in a highly competitive industry.